Ahmad Pourfallah is the first Iranian businessman to win the Leonardo International Prize, a sign of the new direction of Italy’s relationship with Iran after the lifting of nuclear sanctions.
“I am very happy and very proud, I will never forget this day,” Pourfallah told Italian News Agency Agi immediately after being presented with the prize by Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella on Monday.
The president hosted the ceremony celebrating Italian Quality Day at the Quirinale, attended by Minister for Development Federica Guidi and industrial association Confindustria President Giorgio Squinzi.
Pourfallah is the chairman of Iran-Italy Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Mines and Managing Director of Secco Iran, a company that manufactures construction materials.
Discussing the reasons for the award, President of the Leonardo Committee Luisa Todini stressed the fact that Iran is “a strategic country for Italy”.
Pourfallah said the award was undoubtedly another sign of the new stage of relationship after the lifting of embargo.
“Until a few years ago, Italy was Iran’s leading commercial partner and I hope things will soon return to the same level, with Italy as our leading partner. I hope many Iranian entrepreneurs will be awarded this precious prize,” he said.
“The new course of relations looks set to go well. The laws for investing in our country are very avant-garde and they are good laws. I should like to advise Italian businessmen to invest in Iran, not just in high-potential sectors, but also in other sectors such as tourism, in order to better the old records we set with Italy as our commercial partner.” Pourfallah said tourism is of reciprocal interest, as Iran is the fifth tourist attraction in the world, and this sector is very attractive to investors.
Referring to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s forthcoming visit to Tehran, Pourfallah said he hoped this would be the first in a long list of visits.
“Now that the embargo has been lifted, many western presidents have been to Iran, and I hope your head of state Sergio Mattarella will also visit Iran,” he said.